Perpetually hungering for on-the-scene updates on the ongoing demolition of KPRC’s old broadcast station south of Beechnut St. along the Southwest Freeway? Here’s one means of getting your fix: A construction webcam set up above and nearby is still posting updates on the site every 12-to-13 minutes at all hours of the day and night. The 1972 building is coming down right next door to the station’s newly opened replacement, designed to fit Tetris-style into a handy nook on the back of the original — that’s it wearing a protective blue tarp in the shot above, which was captured around 10:15 this morning. You can even follow the action all the way back to December 2015, before the breakup of the surface parking lot where the new building now stands.
That drone view of the demo that Russell Hancock snagged last week shows a broader view of both building still (mostly) in place together (and makes it marginally clearer why some station affiliates claim the seventies structure was meant to look like an old camera:)
A reader alerted Swamplot back around February to the removal of that the cluster of classic cars generally visible inside the mysterious former Southwest Lincoln-Mercury dealership on US 59 a block southwest of Hillcroft Ave. — you know, the one with the glassy peaked showroom that’s often illuminated but usually empty except for the lone security guard (as the Houston Press’s Aaron Reiss documented in 2014). Some of the cars made a brief reappearance soon after — but as of early April the whole property is now up for lease.
Colliers International is listing the mid-sixties building and its 7.44-acre surrounding lot complex, previously owned by late Oilers owner Bud Adams (and still owned by the corporate entity that now owns the Titans.) The Lincoln-Mercury dealership itself — which opened as Southwest Dodge — shut down some time after it filed a 2002 lawsuit against nextdoor amusement park and unskilled minigolf hotbed Celebration Station,alleging thousands of dollars in property damage caused by multi-colored golf balls flying over the fence. (The offending minigolf course is now part of Zuma Fun Center, visible on the bottom right in the top photo.)
The now-glimmering interior of the former house at 6822 Rowan Ln. in Sharpstown is open to the public as of this weekend, and will be for the next 2 months — up until the scheduled demolition of the heavily fire-damaged 3-bedroom structure. Demolition artists Dan Havel and Dean Ruck (who these days sign their work as Havel Ruck Projects) recently converted the condemned building into another tunnel-through-the-living-room-style temporary art piece, though with much sharper lines than their previousInversion House. Last Saturday’s opening reception for the new place (which is actually called Sharp) is part of the October-November-straddling Sculpture Month Houston campaign (which is setting up promotional events for other art installations around town through November 19, if you’re interested).
The pentagonal hole in the front of the structure matches the outline of the knocked-out front windows, as seen in these pre-conversion-but-post-fire listing photos of the demo-bound house:
Just in time for Thursday’s Aldi opening in a former strip center in Robindell, a reader sends photos of the newly de-limbed oaks along the edge of the grocery store’s new parking lot (looking along Bissonnet St. northeast from the intersection with Beechnut). Area residents on NextDoor claim the hacking occurred early Sunday morning, noting also that some fresh baby trees have been planted along the same stretch of road. Here’s another view down the same sidewalk, catching both the saplings and the stumps:
The footage above captures Ed Nelson’s high-water trek last Monday through an overflowing detention basin at the corner of Bob White Dr. and Reamer St. just north of Brays Bayou. Nelson narrates his soggy expedition through the basin (which sits at the south end of the Robindell and Braes Timbers neighborhoods, between Hillcroft Ave. and Fondren Rd.) as he attempts to document different flows of water into and out of the pond; he ultimately claims that water is flowing into the detention pond from Brays, and moving from there into the floodway easement running behind nearby houses on Reamer.
Nelson and other neighbors claim that the surrounding area did not flood prior to the detention basin’s completion in 2008, and that the detention pond was intended to collect water from the surrounding neighborhood and prevent it from flowing too quickly into Brays bayou — whereas during the Tax Day and Memorial Day floods, the basin purportedly collected water from the bayou and channeled it into the neighborhood, causing houses to flood that neighbors believe might not have otherwise.
New parking lot has been spread out around the under-construction Aldi grocery store in Robindell, as seen in this fresh dispatch from behind the Baskin Robbins on the corner of Bissonnet and Beechnut streets. The Germany-rooted grocery store, which is replacing the 1956 strip of shops previously arrayed from 6711 to 6755 Bissonnet St., has settled on 6751 for its new street number, according to county records. Signage is now up on the newly constructed structure itself, though the old marquee along Beechnut St. (far right) still lists the full roster of the departed.
This might be the last recorded view of the slightly peaked facade of the former Loehmann’s Clothing storefront, on the land owned by Houston Baptist University’s for-profit Beechnut Street development company at the southwest corner of 59 and Fondren Rd. A reader noted the green construction fencing late last month around part of the shopping center building that once housed $1.09 CD, Fondren Doctors Medical, and Libreria Cristiana on its narrow frontage-road-facing north end; the shot above looks southwest past the edge of the free-standing Mattress Firm on the center’s corner (right), next to the Shell station and the Burger King.
The strip was issued a demolition permit on the 26th, and by yesterday afternoon, much of the structure was being scraped up by an excavator and its handlers:
Can’t get enough of thatold-shopping-center-knock-down action? Here, courtesy of the Brays Oaks management district, is a view of the carnage currently in progress at the Robindell Shopping Center, where the empty hulls of a slew of colorfully named businesses arrayed from 6711 to 6755 Bissonnet St. are meeting dusty ends. Hello to a new Aldi and company. But before that, a goodbye to Bigwick Liquor, Libreria Cristiana El Resplendor, Ana’s Multi Services, La Sultana Pupuseria, Delta X-Ray, Cute-Cut Salon $5, Eyebrow Threading Salon, and Trudi’s Birria de Chivo. Your ice cream at neighboring Baskin-Robbins will be spared.
For Trudi’s Birria de Chivo and other now-shuttered mainstays of the east corner of Bissonnet and Beechnut in Robindell, just down the road from Bayland Park, it’s all over except the asbestos-clearing and smashing. Going up in place of the 1956 Robindell Shopping Center, according to Sharpstown Civic Association, will be a new Aldi grocery store.
The site plan below for the center at 6751 Bissonnet St. predates the Aldi announcement, but shows a possible arrangement of freefloating buildings to replace the about-to-be-demolished retail row now backing up to Albacore Dr.:
Investor Steve Moore, who’s made a name for himself by buying up, moving into, establishing unusual rules in, cleaning up, and lowering crime rates at some of the roughest apartment complexes in Houston neighborhoods such as Greenspoint and Westwood, has a new investment (and new address) — in Sharpstown. Working with an investment group, the owner of more than 5,000 apartment units has purchased a majority interest in the Gardens at Bissonnet condos at 7400 Bissonnet St., the 200-unit complex near Fondren Rd. known as the Le Promenade condos when it was home to the La Primera gang. Moore was sought out for the purchase by the Greater Sharpstown Management District after the condo complex was put into receivership last year; a series of security measures, which included changing the property’s name, were instituted as part of a legal settlement between the county and the property’s previous owners.
For a flat-topped 1960 mod-in-the-rough in Braeburn Glen, spring’s official kickoff last Friday was also the date of its MLS debut. Might the seasonal switch-up trigger some renewal? The mid-century home tucks its entry under the flying wing of a stone-clad carport and features floors — with and without shag carpet — on several levels. The property is in foreclosure and features an asking price of $56,500.
COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: THE ‘DON’T ASK’ BUILDINGS “Sadly, buildings like the Southwest Inn are all too common in our City, and especially in lower middle and working class areas. They’re in too good shape to be condemned outright, but they suffer from all sorts of serious problems as a result of long-term deferred maintenance. They’re frequently victims of what I call ‘pump and dumps’ — where a slum lord buys the place, pumps it for every last penny, and then dumps it (sells it to the next sucker). Rarely, if ever, are these places torn down and replaced with something better.
Contrary to popular belief, places like the Southwest Motel don’t stay occupied because people don’t have the choice or because they’re cheap. In fact they can be quite expensive. They stay occupied beause they don’t ask questions. Anything goes — so they’re attractive ‘cribs’ for criminals and gang bangers. The thugs love them. The slum lords make a killing from them. But they wreck neighborhoods and ruin lives.
What can be done? We need a multi-faceted approach. Cities in Texas have to fight the problem with one hand tied behind their back, thanks to State laws that heavily favor land owners. Neighbors are wise to approach private interests who have more leeway in buying and tearing down nuisances. And get creative, too. One slum lord, who controlled a condo complex was brought down by the new HOA regulations. We have to bring these guys down, or there will be more shootings, more overdoses, more 5 alarm fires.” [ZAW, commenting on The Story of the Southwest Inn]